Once in a while, now usually once a year, I track expenses just to see where we are at, and to share the info with you all who want to know the actual costs for one couple living in David, Panama. For past cost of living reports, look here https://blog.thepanamaadventure.com/3-the-cost-of-living-in-panama/
Rent $385 – 3 bedroom/2 bath (unfurnished, which means bring your own appliances) in a comfortable middle class neighborhood. Our neighbors are teachers, lawyers, blue collar professionals, and medical professionals. It would probably be $450 now but the landlords haven’t raised the rent in 7+ years.
Food $431.98 – $126.65 for fruits and vegetables, $72.39 at the supermarket, $232.94 at Pricesmart (our version of Costco) It might be a bit lower than average because we started with a well stocked freezer. We buy anything we want including imported food and treats in the freezer. This includes local beer that we enjoy with dinner, and an occasional bottle of local rum. We could lower this quite a bit if we stuck with local foods.
Gas for the car $43 – again could be more, but we started the month with a fairly full tank.
Gas for the kitchen $5.12 – household gas is a tank like you usually see on a BBQ. Tanks are subsidized by the government so very economical. One tank lasts us about a month.
Electricity $40 – with a fridge, freezer, and AC during the hotter afternoons
Cable $46.21 – CableOnda package deal for TV and internet, though we only use the internet
car insurance $27 – monthly for two older cars, liability only. You can only get full coverage on cars less than 10 years old. Even then though, we’ve found it considerably less than in the USA (think it was around $28/month for the one car, before it got too old)
Netflix – $8.99
Phone – $0 – I didn’t put any money on my phone this month. I usually add $10 when my balance gets below $10 and that lasts me for months. Most communication is done by WhatsApp and actual phone calls are unusual.
Books $84.40 – this is high, but they had this sale I couldn’t resist.
Arocha $60.88 – miscellaneous things from the pharmacy, case for my phone, greeting card, can’t remember exactly what else.
Website/blog hosting $10 – or $119.88 paid yearly
Total – $1142.58 This seems to be about the same for every year I’ve tracked it since we arrived in 2012. If anything, we are spending more because we feel we can afford imported food treats, and one of our cars is a large, thirsty beast (though perfect for those drives up the mountain loaded with band equipment).
This does not include travel, eating our (which we almost never do), clothes and other shopping (also rare), and other “non essential” costs. We don’t have health insurance. Since we are both healthy and take no medications, we have decided to keep money in the bank to cover emergencies and pay as we go.
I’ve probably forgotten a detail or two but this will give you a general idea. If we really needed to cut costs we could find a good house for half the price in a smaller, nearby town, and we could cut food costs by staying with only local foods.
We are SO fortunate! To be able to live comfortably, live well and want for nothing on the income we have without worry, its a HUGE gift and we appreciate it each and every day. My heart goes out to all the struggling seniors in the US who can’t afford even their necessities and have few to no options to change their situation. We are so fortunate that we were able to make this change in our lives, and it has been a success.